Criminal defense in Austin Texas.

Animal Cruelty, Free Speech

Posted By on April 24, 2009

A few months ago the 3rd Circuit struck down a law criminalizing videos depicting animal abuse.  Animal advocates condemned it.

Just when you thought we might be making progress as a society, a story like this comes out… A society can be judged upon how well it treats its innocent and those in need of protection.

It seems that somehow, someway, someone has made a case that their dog fighting business falls under the purview of the first amendment and that shutting it down would harm their business. They’ve also apparently had an animal cruelty law more or less tossed out on First amendment grounds. If this is true, it’s outrageous!

I love animals as much as the next person.  In fact, I think they’re more deserving than some people.  But on this one, their advocates are wrong.

First, the facts.  Mr. Stevens was convicted of, and sentenced to three years for, distributing three videos.  The first was of a dog fight from the 1970’s, before dog fighting became illegal in the US.  The second was of a dog fight in Japan, where it’s apparently still legal.  The third was of a hunting dog, being trained to hunt.

In other words, the cruelty depicted in the videos was all perfectly legal when and where it was inflicted.  (As is an inordinate amount of cruelty, all over the world, today.)  The videos did not cause any animal to be harmed, nor will censoring the images bring any animal back to life, or ease the suffering of any animal in any way.

I’ll watch any wildlife show, pretty much any time it’s on.  National Geographic, a while back, followed a pride of lions.  Lions, it turns out, sometimes eat their prey, while their prey is still alive.  It’s about as cruel a thing as you can imagine.

Should Nat Geo be prosecuted? Should they be prohibited from showing it?  Is real life too graphic for us?

I can’t help but think that the fight to censor images of suffering has more to do with coddling human feelings than it does helping animals.


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